The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, 5th Avenue? Sure. But try these Big Apple bucket-list hot spots

THE must-see list for a visitor to New York is ridiculously huge. I mean a day in NYC hardly has you walking a few blocks without you becoming mesmerised.

So, while the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park and the Guggenheim are always on New York travel hit lists, here are 10 spots that are other must-dos.

Some old, some new, but if you are lucky enough to visit New York, there is alwayssomething to discover or rediscover, again and again.

HIGH LINE WALK AND MEATPACKERS

The High Line (also known as the High Line Park) is a 2.33km linear park that was built on an elevated part of a disused railroad, once called the West Side Line. Inspired by the 4.8km Promenade Plantée (tree-lined walkway) in Paris, the High Line has been designed as an aerial greenway and a rails-to-trails park. New Yorkers and a zillion visitors love to walk it as it stretches from the once rough, but now cool Meatpacking District through to Chelsea. The line has a brilliant garden with 300 species, water features and paths. And, it’s perfect people-watching territory.

WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

The (new) Whitney Museum of American Art is THE must-do highlight and is located downtown on the High Line and next to the Hudson River.

With the building designed by architect Renzo Piano, the gallery has a huge range (try 22,000 works from 3000 artists) of 20th century and contemporary American art with a special focus on works by living artists. Dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting and exhibiting American art, the Whitney has always supported innovation and this new ode to art is breathtaking.

Even if you are not an art aficionado, you are honestly mesmerised by the cheeky, at-times poignant pieces that fills walls and floors. I LOVED it. This new building increases the museum’s exhibition and programming space and was worth every one of the $22 paid for entry.

DINNER OR DRINKS ON THE MET ROOFTOP BAR

A roof garden cafe and martini bar at the exquisite Metropolitan Museum of Art? Sign me up!

After you’ve spent few hours meandering around the simply gigantic gallery (also home to the annual Anna Wintour hosted MET gala), soak up the views over a glass of wine.

Entered via an elevator in the European sculpture and decorative arts galleries department at the MET, the self-service, cocktails and drinks are presented in a very informal, walk-around outdoor setting with THE most panoramic views of Manhattan. Bliss.

THE RUSSIAN TEA ROOM

It may have been around for as long as, well, God, but this still one of New York’s best cultural moments. The Russian Tea Room, on West 57th St, was founded by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet in 1927 and been a hot bed of social activity for 80-something years. Whether pollies, creatives, actors, writers or execs, the revolving doors that take you into a modernist Russian decor space (hello red!) make this a real experience.

Did you know Madonna was the coat-check girl here before she became REALLY famous? And that this was where Woody Allen found inspiration for his movieManhattan?

Arriving in NYC from Sydney at 10.30pm and staying for a night across the road, at the simply sensational and incredibly chic Park Hyatt Hotel, I walked over, dined alone (as you happily do in NYC) and loved every second of my Tea Room time. Umm, but it did involve a martini! Love it.

THE STANDARD HOTEL

The design spans — and expands on — a century of modern architecture: “A very sharp place to stay”, an “unbeatable view of downtown Manhattan and the Hudson River”, an “affordable urban cool”. And so the reviews for The Standard Hotel go.

If you are thinking of having a one-night stand(ard), downtown in NYC, then this is possibly the way to do it. The 18-storey tower looks over the High Line, in the heart of Manhattan’s meatpacking district and has views over the Hudson that will melt you heart.

With a retro decor feel to its rooms, the bars and Standard Grill are as cool as they come. That said, it’s not in an intimidating way, but with a very relaxed vibe.

Just avoid sharing your floor with a whole lot of Irish guests who decided to singNew York, New York in the hallway at 3am! (Well, at least it kept my jet lag amused.)

Aside from that, the hotel features the The Standard Ice Rink with its own rink-side Kaffeeklatsch, serving après skate drinks and snacks, a private dining room and event spaces as well as 24-hour room and gym service and the Le Bain Discothèque Seasonal Rooftop Bar. Oh, and free Wi-Fi everywhere.

A boat ride on the Hudson

After 80 years, the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises gang seem to have taken the mantle as THE preferred way to see New York … on water. Having hosted, gulp, 60 million passengers since 1945, the company is purely dedicated to sightseeing. The big boats are designed to let you see as much as possible in any weather as their oversized glass windows give great views of Manhattan. And seeing it from the water is really quite mesmerising.

BROADWAY SHOW

Seriously, what is a trip to NYC without a wander around the always bustling and light-fuelled Times Square and its surrounding Broadway theatre district. New Yorkers and visitors treat going to the theatre like some Aussies do going to a footy match: It’s just a part of everyday life. Whether Kinky Boots, Aladdin, The Lion King, An American in Paris or The Book of Mormon, there is always a show to see. Making a trip to Broadway is always a must-do.

DINNER AT THE POLO BAR

It may be a megabucks bar and restaurant, but what a serious treat to book dinner or lunch at Ralph Lauren’s first bar in NYC: the new Polo Bar, at 1 East 55th St, just around the corner from the new Ralph Lauren Polo Fifth Ave store.

Contrary to what you may think, there isn’t a trace of attitude or smarty pants waiters. And the food? Delicious and delectable in every way. The dining room, which is a flight of stairs down from a bar/lounge area has 132 seats, some as comfy banquettes, others as grander, celebratory tables. And the decor? Style plus. The night after we dined there, Victoria Beckham was there. It’s just that kind of place.

ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY

As soon as you walk the One World Observatory — a poignant, reverent and dramatic homage to the events of September 11 — we are greeted in the Global Welcome Center, where a large video board features salutations in an array of languages, and a dynamically generated world map, which highlights the home towns of the observatory’s visitors.

What you see is a program called Voices, which tells the personal stories of the men and women who built One World Trade Center, followed by Foundations, which gives a close-up view of the bedrock on which the building stands.

To get to the top, we boarded one of five dedicated elevators, which ascend to the 102nd floor in under 60 seconds. In the lift, there was some extraordinary floor-to-ceiling LED technology where we could see a virtual, time-lapse that recreated the evolution if the NYC skyline from the 1500s to now. Beautifully done.

9/11 MEMORIAL

Manhattan’s skyline and the lives of families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, will never be the same. But 12 years later, the World Trade Center’s twin towers have been transformed into the 9/11 Memorial. Cascading reflecting pools etched with the names of those who died stand where the 110-storey buildings once did and the reverence the whole place is respectful and sincere. It also shows the resilience NYC has. A very special and must-do experience.

The writer travelled to New York City as a guest of Qantas and www.nycgo.com

This article was originally posted on news.com.au


Style set kicks off Aussie ski season with snow chic and champagne

AUSTRALIA’S leadings snow resorts officially kicked off their 2015 winter seasons over the long weekend, with some impressive early season conditions.

Partygoers in NSW’s Thredbo included Kate Waterhouse and Luke Ricketson, Sally Bowrey, fashion blogger Nadia Fairfax and Isabella Manfredi, who all revelled in the weekend’s wintry conditions by hitting the slopes and having “workations” from their music and TV projects.

While large parts of Australia’s southeast shivered through the first day of winter, heavy snow falls and subzero temperatures enticed residents in parts of Tasmania, Victoria and NSW to the ski fields.

While the Queen’s birthday long weekend doesn’t often deliver the icy goods — with “après” (after-skiing) fun often more prevalent than snow frolics — the vibe was positive with reports of 30cm of snow hitting some parts of Australia’s ski fields.

Boasting plenty of music, parties and celebrations, more than 2000 guests visitedThredbo, including a flock of fashion bloggers and snow style-meisters who saw The Preatures play a free gig to a huge crowd on Saturday night.

The Cruiser and Gunbarrel chairlifts in Thredbo kicked into operation on Saturday, the earliest they have operated on opening weekend since 2011. Those not skiing were kept warm in après style at the Rekorderlig “Sounds in the Snow” poolside party with Crooked Colours, Red Wine Roses and The Preatures pumping it out.

Families with children played in Thredbo’s free Snow Play Park and joined the Thredboland animals at the kids opening party where children enjoyed dance classes, face painting, Snowy the Clown and a fire show. Oh, and obligatory fireworks.

Early reports had predicted that a cold front was on the horizon, with temperatures well into the subzeros during the nights before the long weekend as snow-making teams were kept hard at work, turning Thredbo into a new season of skiing.

Diners included fashion bloggers Kate Waterhouse, Sara Donaldson and Nadia Fairfax, who where shooting a snow episode of their Fashion Bloggers TV series. Meanwhile, those needing to unwind after a weekend of skiing, snowboarding and partying were looked after at the pub bistro recovery party in the Thredbo Alpine Hotel.

Thredbo was awarded best ski resort in the 2014 Australian Traveller’s People’s Choice awards while it also holds the mantle as the best Australian and New Zealand Family Ski Resort in the Out & About With Kids 2014 awards and Best Australian Ski Resort in the prestigious Luxury Travel Magazine 2014 Gold List Awards. The place must be doing something right…

Melissa Hoyer attempted to resurrect her ski legs as a guest of Thredbo.

This article was originally posted on news.com.au


Qantas and Jessica Hart: Aussie model becomes airline trend consultant

QANTAS continues to ‘style up’ its image. Already, the flying kangaroo has Martin Grant-designed uniforms, passengers purring in Peter Morrissey pyjamas and flyers using Kate Spade amenities kits and Aurora spa products.

Qantas hopes to make sure flyers, who frequent their lounges around Australia, look as respectable, presentable and appropriately dressed as possible.

And now? Qantas has added a ‘trend consultant’ onto their board of ambassadors.

A trend consultant? Yes, the down-to-earth Aussie model Jessica Hart, a former Victoria’s Secret model, Dolly cover girl winner and Vogue cover girl will “connect what’s trending in fashion to what Qantas customers can experience in-flight and on the ground,” according to Qantas.

“Having travelled as much as I have to so many cities, I can honestly say it has inspired my sense of style,” Ms Hart said.

“I love expressing myself through fashion and I believe style evolves as a result of different experiences and travel is a gateway to those experiences.

“I am really excited about partnering with Qantas. Contributing to travel style is something I have always dreamt of so I am excited it’s becoming a reality.

“I already have a number of ideas I can’t wait to share with the Qantas team.”

The model’s arrangement plans to draw on her knowledge of global fashion and lifestyle trends to work on projects benefiting Qantas Frequent Flyers.

The first of these projects will see Qantas and Hart work with leading Australian scarf designers, Bird and Knoll, to nominate a destination that “Feels Like Home” off the back of the recent Qantas advertising campaign.

The destination will be photographed and produced into a limited edition exclusive Bird and Knoll scarf.

Qantas’s Olivia Wirth said the airline is excited to be working with Bird and Knoll and Jessica Hart to ensure Qantas continues to innovate when it comes to travel and style.

“Qantas has a long history of being fashion forward, from our early uniform designs to our current Martin Grant designed outfits, our Kate Spade amenity kits and our award-winning Marc Newson designed Lounges and aircraft interiors,” she said.

“Jessica will bring a fresh eye to some terrific initiatives we are looking at and bring extra style to the Qantas travel experience, starting with the exclusive Bird and Knoll scarfs.”

“While the scarf is the ideal fashion travel accessory, it will also promote the unique beauty of Australia, and as the country’s national carrier, we take great pride in flying the flag for homegrown fashion designers, destinations and talent.”

Jessica, known for her gap-tooth smile and quintessential, beach-girl looks has worked with names like Guess, Triumph, Banana Republic, Portmans, Luma and Esprit and also appeared in MTV’s The City during its first season.

Back then, Jess was dating the then Tamarama band member Nicolas Potts, her long-term boyfriend until 2010.

Since 2011, Jessica has dated Stavros Niarchos III, a Greek billionaire and the pair were spotted at the Tijuana Picnic party in New York just two days ago.

Mr Niarchos, no doubt, has no problems hitching a ride on the odd private jet now and then.

As a runway model Jessica has walked for Sass & Bide, Julien MacDonald, Matthew Williamson, Antonio Berardi, Christopher Kane and Giles Deacon but this trend ambassador gig? Another notch in her top model resume.

This article was originally posted on news.com.au


Qantas increases luxury Los Angeles lounge as Ben Lee serenades high flyers

THERE won’t be a pair of thongs, a singlet or short shorts to be seen as Qantas unveils its latest ode to luxe airport lounge life in Los Angeles.

The Aussie airline, which posted a $206 million after tax profit for the first half of 2014-2015, has always had high hopes for its Pacific market, especially at the consciously coined, LAX.

So much so, the airline is investing in one of its biggest destination airports, increasing the capacity threefold to cope with demand from its growing posse of high flyers.

Together with joint owners and Oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and British Airways, the final stage of the Los Angeles Business Lounge refurbishment, will feature a pop-up, acoustic performance by Aussie-born, Los Angeles based Ben Lee.

The grand event in the Woods Bagot designed lounge continues on from the opening of stage one of the lounge in June 2014. It also follows on from the opening of the sleek and tres fancy Qantas First Lounge, designed by Aussie, Marc Newson, in December 2014.

Vanessa Hudson, Qantas Regional General Manager, the Americas will reveal the multi-million dollar lounge refurbishment aimed at customers travelling through Los Angeles.

“The completion of this project represents our significant investment in the US market,” says Ms Hudson.

“We have tripled the space available across both lounges, added more seating and installed a state-of-the-art kitchen. The new kitchen enables us to offer a bigger menu and a greater variety of dining options.

“Customers tell us that being able to enjoy a relaxing and welcoming space with high quality dining options prior to flying is top of their wish list when it comes to creating the ideal lounge experience.’’

Lounge life lovers have an additional 200 seats, bringing the total capacity of the Business Lounge to 600 seats with the floor space having been tripled. There is a dedicated dining area featuring a large communal dining table equipped with USB and power outlets as well as menu by Qantas Chef Neil Perry.

Even the good ole buffet capacity has increased. There will also be a Californian food cart offering tacos and specialty hot dogs, and a cocktail bar with signature cocktails and barista coffee has been added. There will also be Korean, Mexican and Italian food to munch.

As well, there is a communal fireplace and central glass atrium, an additional of seven shower suites; six work stations equipped with Apple iMacs and a dedicated family zone with children’s furniture, toys and games.

Qantas currently has ‘on sale’ economy fares from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles from $1,249 until 18 May. Prices are based on payment at qantas.com by BPAY. Offer ends 18 May, unless sold out prior. Visit qantas.com with selected travel dates, days and conditions applying.

Melissa Hoyer flew as a guest of Qantas to Los Angeles

This article was originally posted on news.com.au


Qantas returns flying to the Whitsunday's

In a major show of Aussie aviation confidence and in Queensland's tourism mega industry, the Whitsundays welcomed its the first passengers travelling on Qantas’ new Hamilton Island service.

The launch of the service also coincided with the opening of a new luxury resort in the islands, One&Only Hayman Island.

Visitor spending in the region grew by 14 per cent to $706 million last year and Acting Minister for Tourism Tracy Davis said the Whitsundays’ future was looking even brighter thanks to the latest investments in its thriving tourism sector: "Qantas’ decision to commence three return weekly services (in peak time) between Sydney and Hamilton Island will open the skies to more than 10,000 additional visitors a year,” Ms Davis said.

“Both Qantas and resort operator One&Only clearly believe the future’s bright for tourism in Queensland and I certainly agree with them.

“The Queensland Government’s 20-year plan for tourism, Destination Success, outlines the need to deliver quality experiences that delight customers – and that’s exactly what’s happening today in the Whitsundays.

“We have a strong plan for a brighter future and we’re working hard to achieve our goal of doubling annual overnight visitor expenditure to $30 billion by 2020.”

Local Member Jason Costigan said the Whitsundays was experiencing a tourism revival with visitor numbers increasing seven per cent to 687,000 last year.

Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi said Qantas and Queensland shared a close relationship which was strengthened by the plane's arrival.

The combination of the private island in the Great Barrier Reef, the significant investment of, gulp, $80 million made by Mulpha Australia and the One&Only team say they are dedicated to providing guests with amazing travel experiences through their upmarket service.

Ten years have passed since Qantas last flew into the Whitsundays and will fly Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday during peak season (July and September through to January) and bi-weekly services on Wednesday and Sunday off peak.

Qantas dumped its services to Hamilton Island in 2005 when the market dictated it would be best serviced by the airline's (cheaper) subsidiary, Jetstar. 

But with more upmarket resorts having opened, like the new Hayman and Quaila on Hamilton a island, a premium airline product needed to be back on board.

With a 14 per cent rise in tourism in Queensland - to $706million - Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi said the airline is hopeful of bringing something like 10,000 visitors to this region per year.

"And that is certainly not insignificant in terms of leisure tourism," Mr Strambi said.

Mr Strambi and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan were the first people off the Boeing 737-800, ironically named the 'Cook' ( it was Captain Cook who discovered the Whitsunday's passage) when it landed at Hamilton Island yesterday.

Qantas will join both Virgin and Jetstar who will continue flying to the region.

The airline recently flew the cast and crew of top rating TV program Modern Family to the region as part of a two-week filming stint in Australia to promote iconic tourist destinations. 

Mr Strambi said 100million viewers fell in love with the Whitsundays as a result and year round fares begin at $189 one way. 

Melissa Hoyer was a guest if Qantas on the inaugural flight